20 January, 2016

Snow Day Projects

By Scott, our winter expert

As VO's resident Canadian, I was requested to talk a little about winter projects. So with a blizzard approaching the mid-Atlantic ( 'Mericans call it a blizzard. I call it "heavy snow flurries"), I thought now was a good time to go over some ideas of ways to stay connected with the bike, considering the only riding I'll do this weekend is either on the trainer or on my Piolet.

Snow days give me a chance to look the bike over fully to make sure all is ready for the upcoming touring season. And with my increased gravel riding last year and  plans for more gravel touring, it makes sense to ensure everything is ready to go and make the most of spring when it arrives.


The first thing I do with my winter break is to give my leather saddle some care and attention. Rubbing in some of the VO saddle care helps protect the leather. If you just bought a VO saddle, keep in mind that our saddles come with a waterproof spray applied to their tops; the waterproofing helps protect the saddle during the shipping from Taiwan. It takes about a month of riding for the treatment to wear this off, so don't bother applying the VO leather care until you've ridden it for a month or so.

After the saddle has some wear on it, you can apply a dab of the saddle care to a nice clean rag and rub it into the leather. You don't need to use a lot of it; a little dab will do you, as they say. You can also use the saddle care on boots or such. It is made by Limmer boots for us, and we've all used it on leather boots for ages to keep them in tip top shape. There's more about VO saddle care in this older blog post.


Moving down the bike, there are lots of bits on my bike that are, well, shiny. So this is where Simichrome comes into its own. You can use it on a ton of stuff. I've used it on fenders, crank arms, stems and my Opinel knife to get them all looking nice and clean and shiny. It's also great for restoring classic parts as Chris explains here.

Next, I check over the brake pads and make sure they have enough life left on them and replace, if necessary.

I also take the down time to go over some of my camping stuff that has been in storage for the last couple months, clean it up, and check that everything is ready to go for future adventures. I give all my camp knives a sharpening with the Opinel shaprening stone. I also give everything else like mugs, sporks and bowls a good wash and dry and put them back in their stuff sacks, so they can be grabbed quickly and with the knowledge that they are ready to go.

Other then watching cycling movies on Netflix, what are your snow day projects?


7 comments:

Nate said...

Thank you for your instruction on not-overdoing it with saddleproofing.

Some people think that you need to completely penetrate the leather with the proofing to be effective. Not true.

Doing so just makes your saddle soggy with oil and prone to early stretching.

The proofing is intended just to create a shiny water resistant layer. Regular use usually keeps the saddle nice and shiny but some abrasion can raise a nap, the nap allows water in. Depending on your trousers and bike storage situation, your saddle may get abraded sooner than others. A tiny bit of saddleproofing and a rag will return a nice shine.

I worked in a shop for years and it always made me sad when someone came in with an almost brand new leather saddle with 10+ years of proofing slathered all over it making it disgustingly sticky, soggy and floppy. All of my leather saddles are over a decade old and I ride daily in rainy rainy Portland. I, maybe, use a dime sized blob once a year on each of them, and to be honest, probably not even every year.

billyhacker said...

In DC, during the snowfall, I'll be replacing my handlebar tape, tossing my craptastic long-reach T****o brakes and replacing them with the VO ones I got over Xmas, and throwing on some new VO brake cables while I'm at it. Then I'll have a whiskey, watch the snow for a bit, and do all the same for my wife's bike...

Andy said...

I go for a ride.

nordic_68 said...

On my city/hooligan bike, remove the slick touring tires and install knobby CX tires. Not that knobbies help on wet slippery ice, but they do help with dry, hard-packed snow here in Denver. Since side streets can be like that for weeks.

Alter city/hooligan pedal setup to large, strapless toe clips which help accommodate the size of cool weather boots (larger toe boxes) but don't firmly affix foot to pedal.

Determine if any road shoes are practically compatible, in size and usage, with my neoprene boot covers, and if so, install the covers now for the remainder of winter. That said, I've deemed boot covers pretty much inadequate for true cold.

Dust off the insulated winter riding boots, mildly treat their leather, and tighten the metal toe spikes and SPD style cleats for long (cold) road rides or spirited (snowy icy muddy) MTB rides.

Actual bike maintenance is unfavorable because the shed gets too cold to hold metal tools and touch metal bike parts. And if it's actually warm enough to wrench during the day, then it's warm enough to ride instead :-)

John Elliss said...

This all are very good suggestion which is useful to best out of you cycle. If you care your cycle then it never gives defeat at any level of racing.

12 boy said...

A few other things come to mind...re-shellacking tape and twine, lubing cables, maybe brake pivots, tightening chain ring and crank bolts, perhaps a shot of Boeshield or WD40 inside tubes and then let that dry. For wheels with loose bearings a little fresh grease and re-tightening. As Nordic 88 said the shed is too cold to comfortably handle metal, but an hour or so with space heaters takes care of that. Not a bad time to clean up the work bench and make sure everything there is shipshape.

Alex said...

There's a new documentary called Brevet the film about the Paris Brest Paris (streamable on Vimeo)...a great winter escape to long romantic rides.